Photo courtesy of The Education Partnership.

This article first appeared in, a media partner of NEXTpittsburgh that focuses on making Pittsburgh a better place to raise kids.

School supplies are critical to school success. According to teachers involved with The Education Partnership, kids who are equipped with the proper learning tools show increased classroom participation, higher academic achievement and are more likely to complete homework assignments.

In part, those results come from the sense of confidence and positive self-esteem that develops when kids are prepared and ready to excel.

A number of Pittsburgh organizations work toward that goal by delivering back-to-school goods to kids who need them. More fortunate families can help the cause by shopping and donating supplies. It’s a terrific way for kids to develop empathy and a generous spirit by shopping for others. It’s a fun, feel-good project for the whole family.

All the organizations mentioned here can use help through Amazon Wish Lists and they offer volunteer opportunities, too.

1. The Education Partnership

It’s all about the basics at The Education Partnership, which provides essential classroom items for kids and teachers in low-income districts throughout the seven-county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The organization’s impact supports 157 schools, including more than 8,000 teachers and 57,000 kids.

A $25 donation will provide a student with supplies for the entire school year. Or you can collect, buy and donate items throughout the year. Deliver your goods from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays at The Education Partnership, 281 Corliss St., Pittsburgh, PA 15220.

Individuals can donate 100% virtually through Amazon Wish List or RightGift, a free platform that allows donors to select supplies and ship directly to The Education Partnership. Upcoming events help support the Partnership’s mission as well.

2. Bazzy & Bubba’s Backpack Brigade

Richard Bazzy and the Bubba Show at 100.7-FM Star radio team up with the Education Partnership to once again host Bazzy & Bubba’s Backpack Brigade from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 13. Have your kids help collect school supplies to fill new or gently used backpacks to be dropped off at Shults Ford in Wexford.

3. Pack the Bus

WPXI 11 Cares and Staples partner with The Education Partnership to host the 2021 Pack the Bus event from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14. Your help is needed to donate new and gently used school supplies that will be passed onto kids who need them. Among the most requested items are pencils, notebooks, filler paper, scissors, 8-packs of markers and 24-packs of crayons. Five local Staples will accept your donations. Visit stores at North Hills Village Mall, the Steubenville Pike, Banksville Road, The Waterworks and East Liberty.

4. South Hills Interfaith Movement

South Hills Interfaith Movement has been providing food, clothing and services to people in need throughout the South Hills for more than 50 years. The organization has been collecting school supplies all summer long and will hold three back-to-school supply events for families in Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, South Park and Upper St. Clair school districts this month. There is no registration necessary. The walk-up, outdoor distribution dates are:

Aug. 17: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Whitehall Presbyterian Church, 4935 E Willock Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15227.

Aug. 18: 1-4 p.m. at Pleasant Hills Presbyterian Church, 199 Old Clairton Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15236.

Aug. 19: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at SHIM, 5301 Park Ave., Bethel Park, PA 15102.

5. Pittsburgh Public Schools

Thousands of Pittsburgh Public Schools families will head to the North Shore from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 20 for the 9th-annual #PittsburghForPPS, presented by PNC. The drive-up, back-to-school distribution will help equip kids to jump into the school year with all the resources they need for success. Families will receive book bags stuffed with supplies, hand sanitizer, masks and food. No registration is required.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

6. Salvation Army Pittsburgh

The Salvation Army’s annual Back-to-School Bash is scheduled from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Salvation Army Pittsburgh Temple Worship and Service Center on McNeilly Road. Expect a bouncy house, food and celebration. Kids will receive backpacks, school supplies, clothing, shoes – and even haircuts so they look their best when school starts. Registration is required by calling 412-207-2127. Social distancing and masks are encouraged for unvaccinated guests.

Photo courtesy of the National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh.

7. National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh

The National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh has been operating its Back 2 School Store for six years. The effort helps underserved kids start school on an equal footing with their peers by “shopping” for new supplies and clothing at no cost. The experience allows kids in grades K-5 to begin the school year on a positive note. The council partners with about 30 community agencies to identify kids with needs. Likewise, the Kids Community Closet helps with clothing throughout the year, as seasons change along with family circumstances.

Photo courtesy of North Hills Community Outreach.

8. North Hills Community Outreach

North Hills Community Outreach helps families in the northern suburbs work through tough times, which includes the back-to-school crunch. The organization is collecting and distributing new backpacks, notebooks, colored pencils, scissors, pencil boxes and other school supplies. Next up is the Kid’s Coat Shop, running Sept. 1-Oct. 18. The organization will be collecting and handing out new winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves for kids from infants to 18-year-olds. Donations can be dropped off at any of the three offices or ordered via Amazon Wish List and shipped directly.

Call 412-487-6316, option 1, ext. 3143 for an appointment for these school supplies distributions:

Aug. 16:  3-6 p.m. at the North Boroughs office, 939 California Ave., Avalon.

Aug. 20: 1-4 p.m. at the Millvale office, 416 Lincoln Ave., Millvale.

Photo courtesy of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.

9. Homeless Children’s Education Fund

Staff members and volunteers at the Homeless Children’s Education Fund collect and fill new backpacks with age-appropriate school supplies. They travel by school bus to deliver the backpacks to kids through partner organizations and agencies that focus on homeless housing. Want to help? Contact HCEF’s Marketing & Program Assistant for donation drop-off details.

Image courtesy of Glade Run Lutheran Services.

10. Glade Run Lutheran Services

Glade Run Lutheran Services requests help to collect backpacks and other supplies for its annual Back-to-School Drive. Since its founding in 1854, Glade Run has evolved its mission to meet the challenging mental health and educational needs of families. In addition to standard items like notebooks, markers and pencil cases, the organization is asking for personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, deodorant and body wash. To find the suggested list of items that struggling families need most, click here. You will also find details on contactless drop-off and ways to donate online.

Image courtesy of Foster Lover Project.

11. Foster Love Project

Foster Love Project, which supports foster kids and their caregivers, will host their back-to-school on Saturday, Aug. 14. More than 180 kids will receive new brand-name tennis shoes, a sweatshirt and backpack. Registration is closed, but keep in mind that Foster Love continues its work year-round.

Sally Quinn is a Pittsburgh-based editor and writer who writes about food, entertainment, kid stuff, pop culture, cocktails!